In T1807/15 for EP04758381.0 / EP1609239, the Technical Board of Appeal referred, in an interlocutory decision of 12 March 2021, the following question the Enlarged Board of Appeal: “Is the conduct of oral proceedings in the form of a videoconference compatible with the right to oral proceedings as enshrined in if not all of the parties to the proceedings have given their consent to the conduct of oral proceedings in the form of a videoconference?”
As anticipated, this case will be handled under G1/21. What could not have been foreseen is that the Enlarged Board of Appeal has already summoned the parties to oral proceedings – ironically, by videoconference! The proceedings are scheduled to take place on Friday, 28 May 2021 at 9am CET.
Background to G1/21
G1/21 has all the ingredients for a thrilling matter. Whereas oral proceedings in the form of a videoconference (ViCo) have been around for some time, the European Patent Office changed the default from in-person to videoconference on 01 April 2020.
Although our experience of ViCo before the EPO has been positive, the advantages and disadvantages of videoconference oral proceedings may be evaluated quite differently by different parties. The matter is attracting great interest.
The Enlarged Board of Appeal now has to decide whether or not the Travaux Préparatoires, the preparatory work for the European Patent Convention (EPC) dating back to the 1960s, the EPC and established case law require consent to the conduct of oral proceedings in the form of a videoconference from all of the parties to the proceedings.
As it is generally advisable, each party to the proceedings usually requests oral proceedings. However, if a party has not requested oral proceedings, its consent may be dispensable.
Save the date
The oral proceedings will be held using Zoom on Friday 28 May 2021.
Guide to Vico at the EPO
The EPO is moving towards the use of video conferencing (ViCo) as the “new normal” for oral proceedings. We have produced a guide drawing from our experience of ex parte and inter partes oral proceedings before the EPO by video conference to aid participants of such proceedings in what they might expect and how best to prepare. Our “Client Checklist for ViCo” is included for clients attending a ViCo hearing.